Losing My Covid 19 – (update) to Covid and Back – A Dietitian’s Journey

This article is an update to my A Dietitian’s Journey article, “To Covid and Back” that I posted on January 25, 2021. At that point, I was working hard at overcoming the post-viral arthritis that I was experiencing after (presumably) having had Covid-19 the first few weeks of August. I had a plan on how I was going to lose the 19 pounds I had gained during those weeks and the several that followed — due largely to decreased mobility.


It is 3 months since I wrote the last article, and 8 months since I was sick, and the last month has been huge!  It’s only in writing this article that I have been able to take stock in all that I’ve accomplished.

I realize that it has been a month since my joints have been swollen and painful — and I am very grateful for the recommendations of a wonderful Functional Medicine MD who suggested several nutraceuticals that really worked!  Even though I had looked up studies on them,  at the time I remained very skeptical,  but my pain and discomfort motivated me to give them a try as they were all very safe, albeit expensive. The last week or ten days due to decreased pain and inflammation in my joints, I have begun spreading out the dosage and so far so good. Last night I ordered more of each in order for me to continue with them in the days ahead, but at reduced frequency.

As for my “Covid 19” that I needed to deal with (the 19 pounds I gained during the 3 weeks that I was sick and the decreased mobility that followed), my plan was to lose it all by yesterday, May 1st — which would have been my father (of blessed memory)’s birthday. In retrospect it wasn’t at all realistic for me to expect to lose 19 pounds in 13 weeks by simply modifying my macros — when previous to getting sick, my BMI was well within the normal range, with an ideal waist circumference.  I would have advised a client that it was not reasonable to expect to lose that much with modest dietary changes when so close to goal weight, but I didn’t stop to consider that myself.  That being said, I did lose half that amount of weight during this time, as well as lose 2 of the 3 inches that I had put on around my waist, so I am very happy.  Currently, my waist is within an inch of being optimal, and by Canada Day this year (July 1st) I am hopeful that the remainder of my post-Covid weight loss goals will be realized.

Most importantly, since Covid I have regained my mobility (and then some!) — and for this I am very thankful! Last spring, before I got sick, I was reasonably active and fit and doing strength training once or twice per week, but by the end of August (after Covid) it was difficult for me to even walk up (or down!) a flight of stairs. This both shocked and scared me.

I began to go for walks — even though it was very hard.  At first they were literally just around the block, but I kept at it.  One of my young adult sons who lives with me kept encouraging me to walk, and would sometimes go with me.  As my legs became stronger, walks turned into short  inadvertent ‘hikes’ and I discovered I really liked being out in the woods, even though it remained very hard to step up onto rocks, or step down from them.  I dug out the wood hiking staff that I brought with me when I moved from California and put it into service., invested in some hiking boots and other ‘essentials’. As I said in the previous article, my hiking stick — along with my fuchsia rain gear has become somewhat of an identifier– but the truth is, without the hiking stick, I could not have possibly begun to hike.

My first breakthrough was in late November, when I did my 4th real hike which was 12 km around Buntzen Lake — which in terms of a few elevation gains was really beyond my capabilities. With frequent stops and lots of encouragement from my son, I did it.  I had to. He couldn’t exactly carry me back to the car! That day I felt as though I had beaten the post Covid muscle weakness and was on my way back to health.

Hikes 5 & 6 took me to Malcolm Knapp & Golden Ears East Canyon, then through the snow at Lynn Valley Loop in North Vancouver.  Hike 8 on January 16th was my second “victory” where I made it up and down 3 climbs that were above my capacity of 100 meters per kilometer, but I did it!

When I last wrote, I had just completed hike #9 at Lighthouse Park, in West Vancouver and while I found it difficult, my trusty hiking stick and I hiked down to ocean level by climbing on the large rocks, and between the crevices.

Nothing was going to stop me. Not the virus. Not the after effects, and not my discouragement and how much mobility I had lost.

Here it is 3 months later and I have since done a 9 km hike in the pouring rain at Hayward Lake (Feb 6 2021) with a hiking friend, and her husband.

Then I did a 3.2 km hike around Sasamat Lake (Feb 12, 2021) and when that wasn’t enough…we hiked over to Admiralty Point and did a 10.5 km hike down to Burrard Inlet.

a week or two later there was the “not a hike” hike on February 20th  to show my son and his fiancée Lower Falls at Golden Ears Provincial Park, which was my very first hike.  It was so easy, I didn’t even count it as a hike.

Hike 12 was March 6th at Thornhill Trail plus Silver Ghost and even though my hiking partner and I got lost, it was fun!!

Hike #13 on March 13, 2021 was a 13 km walk from Derby Reach to Fort Langley, via the Fort to Fort Trail by which time my feet were killing me!

It was not as rustic as I was used to and my boots were not designed for that type of walk.

That said, my hiking friend and I had a lovely walk and chat. The scenery across the Fraser River reminded me of my frequent camping trips to Maine when I lived in Montreal.

Hike 14 was to Menzies, Lookout and Loop Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park on March 20th and I wasn’t going to let the waterfall from the torrential rain that week stop me!

My last hike on April 17th after a 3 week break (as my usual hiking partners were all busy) was, as they say in French, la pièce de résistance!

Hike #15 was a 16.2 km hike on an unseasonably warm (25 degree Celsius) day was a 6 km hike down Valley Trail to the start of Viewpoint Trail.  Then, up to the top to the viewpoint, and then down something my son dubbed “Oh Sh¡t Ridge” — a brutal  “shortcut”  down a 175 ft. descent in only 500m (from 450 feet).

I was 1/2 the way down and the sun was now behind the trees and  I realized that there was no turning back in order for us to get back to the car before dark. Again, I had no option but to keep going.

Covid was not going to beat me. Jug Island didn’t beat me, and “Oh Sh¡t Ridge” wasn’t going to either!

When I got down, the first thing I did was bathe my face and upper body in a freezing cold mountain stream and it was the most wonderful experience I can remember in a very long time!! This is how I posted about that hike, the next day on social media;

“Yesterday I bathed in an ice-cold mountain stream. I managed to make it down a 175ft drop in 500m — climbing over several large fallen trees and under two large ones that blocked the path, using my arms to suspend myself. I pushed myself harder than I thought I could because I had no choice (we HAD to get down and started that way). I am stiff and sore — and feel WONDERFUL. #livinglifetoitsfullest”

 

Even though I had what my doctor and I presumed was Covid back last August, I made the well-thought through (albeit difficult) decision to take the vaccine last week when I became eligible — mainly because I am older and prior to two years ago had several known “pre-existing conditions” that make outcome in Covid more risky.

My original “A Dietitian’s Journey” was my health and weight recovery from obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension which took place from March 5, 2017 – March 5, 2019.  For the following year and a half, my weight, waist circumference and blood sugar and pressure were all stable, without medication. The last 8 months have been my return from a little ‘detour’, that I’ve called “from Covid and back”.

I’m not naïve.

Maintaining a 55 pound weight loss is not easy. It takes diligence and determination and even though I gained almost 20 pounds and 3 inches around my waist after having been sick, I am more than half way “home”.  I look at my face in the mirror and am satisfied with the reflection looking back. I think, “not bad for an ‘ol lady’!

While my weight loss was not what I had unrealistically planned, I also need to factor in the inch or so of muscle that I have gained on each of my legs from hiking, and my arms are stronger too from supporting myself on my trusty stick. I have conquered obstacles that I hadn’t even dreamed of doing before I had gotten sick and discovered a love of hiking that I would not have known, if not for this ‘detour’.

We are all on our own ‘journeys’ and even though they are not always linear or what we planned in advance, we can be either be resigned to the inevitable outcome or fight with everything we have to reclaim our lives and our health, and become even better than before.

This is what I have chosen, and keep choosing.

If I can help you on your journey, please let me know.

To our good health!

 

Joy

 

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